BABY IN A BOTTLE
by Benjamin Bautista
The truth was, Mr. Libre felt sorry for his wife. He was very careful to hide it from her, of course, but day by day, through the years, as he saw her watching the shriveled half-black baby in the bottle, he felt more and more sorry for her. She would touch the bottle gently, once in a while, and run her hands fondly over the cold glass; inside, the stiff, skinless body of a four-inch boy now dead for five years, would bob up and down in the green alcohol. And then sometimes, slowly, to herself, she would smile. Mr. Libre‘s wife was a plain woman with high cheekbones and a sad mouth, who was only twenty-nine years old but whose eyes were no ...view middle of the document...
They planned to move out after a few years because they thought the room would be too small for the children to come, and they hoped to have many children. But five years passed before they had their first child, and when it was only four months in the womb, it was prematurely born.
It was a boy but it didn‘t even look like a baby. It had eyes and ears and arms and its skinless body had been formed, but it was only four inches long and looked cold and raw as though it was just a piece of peeled flesh that never had life at all. Mr. Libre felt it to the nurses but his wife asked to keep it and take it home with her; he didn‘t know why, until the doctor told him that his wife knew that she could never have any more children. After that neither of them talked about it much and they slipped
back to the routine of everyday living. Still he took it on himself to try to make it easier for her through the days.
One afternoon in the last busy week of January, Mr.Libre was looking over some old files in the Recorder‘s cubicle when all of a sudden he remembered that on that day the baby in the bottle was five years and seven months old. He thought no more about it but kept it in the back of his mind to tell his wife that night; she wanted to hear him talk about the baby. He went on checking the old files but
when he was almost finished, his eyes hurt again and he had to go back to his desk.
Mr. Libre was a clerk in the freight department of an import-export corporation and all day he had to sit behind a high desk and sort out receipts and record them. At was not a hard job but it kept him constantly busy because there were so many receipts and he was so very careful about his work, he seldom found time to leave his desk from eight-thirty to five o‘clock every day.
He had been with the firm for nine years now and he knew his work well but still did not find it easy. It demanded so much concentration from him and there were days when it all seemed to be painfully hard but it only made him try even harder. May times he would have to focus his eyes on
the pink, yellow and blue receipts and make an explicit act of the will to follow the items on them. Usually he would have to strain his eyes excessively so that often the muscles behind his eye sockets tightened and he would feel a smarting throb in his eyes. He would stop work at once and close his eyes as tightly as he could. The he would force a smile until his jaw hurt because, although that
didn‘t ease the pain any, it always held back the tears. Tears always embarrasses him. They made him feel helpless.
He did not rest his eyes long because there were many late receipts that he had to go through and he went back to work on them. But after a few minutes he grew restless with the papers and he wanted to go over to the window and get a breath of air. But the window was across the room and the assistant manager was talking to a typist only two or three feet...